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The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Chapter 26 : Soul Scrolls | Summary



Offred finds that the next Ceremony is awkward because of her arrangement with the Commander. She is self-conscious and has conflicting emotions toward Serena Joy. She notes that she is now the Commander's mistress, a word choice that hearkens back to the film about the Nazi leader and his lover. Although Offred's and the Commander's social roles remain the same, the circumstances are very different. She says that the arrangement makes her slightly happier now because being more than just an object of fertility makes her feel as if she is more than nothing.


The growing intimacy with the Commander, though still far from love, has progressed to the point where Offred recognizes a shift in her relationship with him. Recall that this is not Offred's first experience as a mistress. She was Luke's mistress, too, as he was married when the two first started seeing each other. While love motivated Offred in her first experience as a mistress, something else motivates her now: reclamation of identity and possible escape. Offred's similarity to the Nazi's mistress is important, too. Will Offred stand by this choice to become the Commander's mistress and live or die with its consequences?

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